The Mayor’s Arts Awards is a new, annual recognition program that celebrates artistic achievement as well as extraordinary support for and contributions to the arts. By increasing the profile for the arts in Kingston, the Mayor’s Arts Awards affirms the value of the arts as a source of creativity, innovation and pride and nurtures the sustained development of the cultural sector to the benefit of all Kingston residents.

The City of Kingston, through the Cultural Services Department, will administer the Mayor’s Arts Awards program and will work in collaboration with the Kingston Arts Council (KAC) who will lead the documentation, promotion and celebration of the award recipients.

For full details about the program, go here.

To read the City of Kingston announcement of the program, go here.


The 2018 Mayor’s Arts Awards Recipients

Creator Award winners

Onagottay Blanchard – Artist whose work spans from traditional media, such as birchbark, horn, leather, and beadwork to canvas-based acrylics and large public works. Having studied under the world-renowned Ojibwe artist Norval Morrisseau and engaged in Midewiwin training as a medicine person, his work is informed by authentic Anishinaabe intellectual tradition and is emblematic of woodlands art, which spans centuries.

Erin Ball – Kingston-based circus artist whose disciplines include aerial silks and trapeze, wheelchair acrobatics, aerial wheelchair, aerial hoop, partner acrobatics, hand balancing and hooping. In 2014, Erin faced life-changing events that resulted in the loss of her lower legs. Since returning to her passion of performing, training and coaching, Erin uses her perspective and experiences to tell stories, inspire others, and explore the possibilities of movement. Today, Erin is the owner of Kingston Circus Arts where she teaches circus arts to all bodies, shapes, sizes, ages and situations.

Clarke Mackey – Kingston-based director, cinematographer, editor, producer, and writer whose work spans feature films, experimental video works, and documentaries. Clarke shared his talents with innumerable students during his 30 year career at Queen’s University and has been engaged more recently in community activism in Eastern Ontario, producing micro-budget documentaries on subjects such as the closing of the prison farm in Kingston. Clarke is an active member of the local community and sits on numerous arts boards.

Arts Champion Award winner

Karen Peperkorn – Described as an artist whose medium is teaching and whose students are her art work. She is a high school teacher who has shaped the lives of students through arts education in Kingston. In 1990, Karen founded the Creative Arts Focus program at QECVI, which provides students interested in Fine Art and Design with training in media, techniques, community participation and a uniquely collaborative education experience. Karen has devoted her life to sharing the power and potential of the arts and finding innovative ways to support the artistic pursuits of young people.

Limestone Arts Legacy Award winner

Kim Renders – One of Canada’s most daring theatrical practitioners, highly respected as an actor, director, writer, and professor. Kim co-founded the Nightwood Theatre Company in Toronto in 1978, was the Artistic Director of Theatre Kingston from 2007 – 2011 and co-founded the Kingston-based Chipped Off Performance Collective in 2013 that created and produced community artistic presentations from a queer and feminist perspective. A theatre pioneer, Kim used art for activism and gave a voice to the marginalized.


The 2017 Mayor’s Arts Award Recipients

Creator Award winners

Armand Garnet Ruffo is an Anishinaabe (Ojibwe) scholar, filmmaker, writer and poet. A Queen’s University National Scholar in Indigenous Literature, Ruffo’s award-winning works include plays, film and books of prose and poetry. His work is inventive and multidisciplinary, and his approach is a subtle, personal and deeply informed expression of Indigenous culture. His collection, The Thunderbird Poems (2015), was inspired by the art of Norval Morisseau.

Su Sheedy – Known for her use of colour and texture in her paintings, Sheedy’s work has been exhibited in Toronto, Montreal, Ottawa, Prince Edward County as well as Kingston. The artistic merit of her work is matched by her generous leadership in inspiring visual, media and audio artists to mobilize for the conservation of, and public access to, Kingston’s waterfront in the high-impact Shoreline Shuffle (2013) public art and action event, and through subsequent exhibitions and actions at the Pump House Steam Museum (2014) and the Tett Centre (2017). With projects like the Shoreline Shuffle, Sheedy has used art to help highlight the need to conserve and improve access to waterways.

Matt Rogalsky is an accomplished and widely recognized artist specializing as a media artist in electronic and electroacoustic music who continually extends the boundaries of his art form. A founding member of The Gertrudes, composer and multi-media artist Rogalsky, is also the force behind The Tone Deaf Festival of Experimental Sound and sits on the board of the Skeleton Park Arts Festival. Talented and widely respected, Matt provides his technical and artistic expertise and encouragement to an enormous range of art activities in Kingston, spanning visual and performance art, storytelling, classical to experimental music, film and theatre.

Arts Champion Award winner

Yessica Rivera Belsham – Drawing on her passion for her Mexican heritage, Yessica facilitates performance workshops, cultural and wellness events that feature painting, drawing, sculpture, jewellery design, sewing, drumming and singing. Yessica Rivera Belsham is a visionary holistic community leader and multidisciplinary
artist, founder and artistic director of Circle of Wellness, which provides inclusive intergenerational learning and collective performance opportunities through programs
such as Kingston Drum Circle, Rhythm Momentum, Dia de los Muertos Festival and Quetzalcoatl, which focuses on Indigenous and folkloric Mexican arts, crafts, music and
Aztec drumming.

Limestone Arts Legacy Award winner

David Kemp was an accomplished playwright, theatre artist and educator who advocated for theatre education for all ages. David was the artistic director of the Frontenac Children’s Teacher’s Theatre Company, which performed children’s theatre at local schools. In co-founding the Artists in Community Education program (ACE), which provides practising artists with the teaching tools they needed to pursue classroom, community outreach and arts leadership careers, he has inspired successive generations of youth while integrating artistic practices in all disciplines with community life, making Kingston a leading centre for arts education. David was a passionate advocate for theatre education for all ages and was a beloved member of the Kingston arts community.

Thank you to Make Hay Media for the videos.